Pretty much every newspaper in Ohio has had either a columnist or an editorial blasting the JobsOhio amendment in SB 67 that prevent it from being publicly audited by the State Auditor. Today’s Toledo Blade editorial titled “Audit JobsOhio” being just the latest must-read one. Undeterred, apparently, the Senate Republicans added to the State budget before passing it yesterday a provision that would allow local government bodies to exempt from public meeting laws when discussing awarding tax credits for economic development. The rationale for it, according to State Senator Bill Seitz, is why should local government be required to public meeting laws when the State is not?
“Practically everything (JobsOhio does) can be conducted without adherence to the Open Meetings Law. Your local elected officials, who are also laboring in the vineyard of economic development, ought to have the same flexibility for negotiating purposes,” Seitz told The Enquirer. “The public, of course, will know of every decision once it is made.”
That’s interesting of Seitz because that’s exactly what we were told about JobsOhio. Except JobsOhio has never made it clear what decisions it has made. Sure, it’s quarterly reports say what companies it has helped. It just doesn’t say how.
Seitz said his amendment was needed to aid local governments competing with one another for jobs. And that’s why Seitz is wrong. We shouldn’t be enacting policies that encourage communities to compete, and not cooperate, with one another because that’s not genuine economic development. When Kasich and JobsOhio moved Bob Evans’ corporate headquarters from Columbus to just outside of it, that didn’t benefit Ohio and it’s a zero sum game for Ohio’s communities. Just a few weeks ago, Kasich was crowing about the jobs he and JobsOhio was bringing to Wilmington, an area devastated with jobs losses when DHL closed its air parcel shipping hub there. However, hundreds of those jobs were merely jobs being transferred from Columbus. Again, a zero sum game.
Taxpayers have a right to know when its local leaders are passing out tax cuts to businesses like candy. There was a time in which business leaders were describes as “titans” and “captains” of industry. Now, we’re told job creators are skittish unicorns that can be spooked away if John Q. Public sees their deal making with politicians. We were told we had to accept secrecy in JobsOhio because, technically, it was a private company. Now, we’re seeing it being used to justify letting public bodies work in secret, too.
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